One of Kagero’s latest installments in their TOPDRAWING series is booklet # 98 which covers the M4 Sherman – namely the M4, M4A1 and M4A4 Firefly variants. Like the other TOPDRAWING series booklets, #98 describes the differences in the external arrangements of the major variants, through text, line drawings (in the more common modeling scales) and a few color profiles. These booklets are a great reference for scale modelers of any experience level. I would like to thank Casemate Publishers for providing a copy for this review.
As described in the introduction on page 1, the M4 Sherman was the most popular American tank of World War II. There were over 49,000 M4 tanks produced in over a dozen variants between early 1942 and mid-1945. As for the M4 variants covered in this booklet, the major different external features were:
- The M4 had a welded hull (built-up from plate steel) and most sported the M3, 75mm gun.
- M4A1 had a cast hull (indicated by rounded/smooth transitions from top to sides), larger driver’s hatches and most had either the M3 gun or the M1 (76mm) gun.
- M4A4 had a welded hull that was slightly longer than the M4 or M4A1 to accommodate a new engine and drive train upgrades. Over 2000 M4A4s were converted to Fireflies (Type VC) for the British and a few others. Fireflies were fitted with Great Britain’s “17-pounder” – a powerful 76.2 mm (3 inch) anti-tank gun that could penetrate the front armor on even the heavy German Tigers from longer ranges. Firefly was the nickname given to due to the bright muzzle flash produced by those rounds.
This booklet shows these plus other minor external differences, in line art and at various scales, which makes this a great reference for modelers to keep handy during their builds. All figure captions throughout are in English and Polish.
- Page 1 provides a short introduction of the Sherman family in English and Polish.
- Page 2 (Drawing Sheet 1) shows line drawings of the M4 in 1/35th scale, showing the riveted lower hull (look between the bogies), M3 (75mm) gun and M34 gun mount (a.k.a. mantlet) (photo 1).
- Page 3 (Drawing Sheet 2) shows line drawings of the M4 in 1/35th scale, showing the welded lower hull (no rivets/bolts) and the M3 gun in the M34A1 gun mount.
- Page 4 (Drawing Sheet 3) show line drawings of the M4A1 (cast hull) in 1/35th scale, showing the M3 gun in the M34A1 mantlet (photo 2).
- Page 5 (Drawing Sheet 4) shows line drawings of the M4A1 in 1/35th scale, showing the M3 gun in the M34 gun mount (the caption incorrectly reads “M34A1” mount).
- Pages 6 and 7 (Drawing Sheets 5 & 6) show line drawings, in 1/35th scale, of some of the different details such as barrel, breech lock and yoke differences on the M3 gun, periscope covers and tow hooks (photo 3).
- Page 8 (Drawing Sheet 7) shows two sets of top, side, front and back views, in 1/48th scale of the M4 with M3 gun – one set with the bolted lower hull and M34 gun mount and the other set with the welded lower hull and M34A1 gun mount (photo 4).
- Pages 9 through 12 show full color profiles of M4, M4A1 and the longer M4A4 with markings from various operational units that used them (photos 5, 6, 7 & 8).
- Page 13 (Drawing Sheet 8) shows two sets of top, side, front and back views of the M4A1 with the M3 gun, in 1/48th scale - 1 set with the M34 gun mount and the M34A1 gun mount.
- Page 14 (Drawing Sheet 9) shows two sets of top, side, front and back views of the M4 with the M3 gun in 1/72nd scale, one set with the bolted lower hull and M34 gun mount and the other set with the welded lower hull and M34A1 gun mount.
- Page 15 (Drawing Sheet 10) shows two sets of top, side and front and back views of the M4A1 with the M3 gun in 1/72nd scale, one set with the M34 gun mount and the other set with the M34A1 gun mount (photo 9).
- Page 16 (Drawing Sheet 11). This page’s caption indicates what is shown is an M4A4 Firefly in each 1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/35th scales. This is not the case. Firstly, the M4A4 had a welded hull that was longer than the M4A1 (smooth hull) shown. Some basic M4s and M4 Composites (combined cast/welded hull) were converted to Fireflies (Type IC) but no examples or information were found of M4A1s being converted to Fireflies. Secondly, while it looks like a 76mm gun with that bigger breech, it does not have the famous spherical muzzle brake the British 17-pounder needed to reduce the recoil of those higher power rounds. The drawing does depict the later model turret modified for the Firefly role.
- Pages 17 (Drawing Sheet 12) shows a profile view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a bolted lower hull and M3 gun in the M34 mount.
- Pages 18 (Drawing Sheets 13) shows a top view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a welded lower hull and the M3 gun in an M34 mount (the caption incorrectly reads “M34A1” mount).
- Pages 19 (Drawing Sheets 14) shows a profile view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a welded lower hull and the M3 gun in an M34A1 mount (photo 10).
- Pages 20 (Drawing Sheets 15) shows a top view of the M4 in 1/24th scale with a welded lower hull and the M3 gun and M34A1 mount.
- Two M4 Hybrid (Cast hull front half and welded back half) Fireflies (Type IC) are depicted in color on the back cover (photo 11).
- The line-drawing insert show a profile and a top view, respectively, of the M4 in 1/16th scale, with the M3 gun and M34 mount (photos 12 & 13).
This publication is a good quick reference for modelers of the M4, M4A1 and M4A4 “Firefly” variants of the Sherman family. The accuracy and detail are outstanding, and I highly recommend this publication to anyone with an interest in WWII armor but particularly, modelers trying to capture all the finer external details on their M4 builds. Perhaps future TOPDRAWING volumes will go into similar detail for some of the other M4 variants described on the first page such as the floating Sherman “DD” (Duplex Drive), Sherman Crab (with anti-mine trawl) or, the Sherman “Zippo” with a flamethrower mounted instead of the main gun.
Once again, I would like to thank Kagero for the excellent reference product, Casemate Publishers for providing the review copy and IPMS/USA for allowing me the opportunity to review it. A particularly big thanks also to Casemate Publishers for quickly providing a second review copy after it was discovered the first copy had included the incorrect 1/16th scale insert.